Valeria Crescenzi

What is the difference between interior designers and interior decorators (and which one you need)

A few days ago, while talking with a friend who needs to furnish a new house, an interesting aspect came out from our conversation: it’s not always clear what is the difference between interior designers and interior decorators (also called interior stylist). And which one you should hire if you have to make changes in your home and need help.

So I decided to write a post explaining the differences between the two professions. Hope this will help you choose the right professional for your interior project.

What does an interior designer do?

An interior designer works primarily with the floor plan. He/she takes care of structural changes and space transformation, working closely with architects and contractors. It’s the right choice if you need, for example, to add or remove a wall, change the dimensions of a room, carve out extra space, add a window, or moving plumbing.

Interior designers are therefore primarily concerned with creating an optimally functional space and that is why they are often involved in the construction or renovation process. They can also help you with furniture but usually don’t go into details when it comes to talking about textiles, paints, wallpapers, decoration objects etc…


An interior designer has formal training which includes space planning, architecture, color, and furniture design. In some countries, they need a license so they are required to pass an exam and become registered professionals.

What does an interior decorator (or stylist) do?

On the other hand, interior decorators (or interior stylists) step in when the structural work is done. They don’t move or knock down walls but have the experience and the eye to work on the aesthetics of a space within its functionality.

Image via Pinterest

They decide on a style, picking the right paint or wallpaper, choosing window treatments, lighting, home accessories, art, and all those objects that make a space a lively space.

It’s the right choice if there are no structural changes to make but you need aesthetic help. They don’t need formal training since they don’t participate in space planning, but they usually studied color theory, furniture styles, art, history of architecture, know artisans, what the furniture market has to offer, and are always up to date on the latest trends.


What does this difference mean to you?

Hiring an interior designer or an interior decorator depends mainly on the kind of project you have in mind. If you need to change and adapt a space then you should definitely hire an interior designer. But if you just moved to a new apartment and want to invest in better furniture, improve the overall style of your home or just refresh one of the rooms, then you need an interior decorator.

I personally am an interior decorator and this means that my clients usually ask for help on furniture, accessories, paints, and wallpaper. Sometimes I also work for brands that need to style their products for a photoshoot. Discover how can I help you with your decoration project on the WORK WITH ME page or drop me a line at

I’ll help you look at your space with fresh eyes and decorate (or re-decorate) it according to your needs and taste.

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